Travel & Tourism

Yafa: A Towering Mountain

National Yemen

By Tamjid Alkohali

On the top of al-Karh Mountain, about 700 above the sea level in the city of Yafa in Abyan, sits al-Karh Citadel, which dates back thousands of years.

Al-Karh Citadel is considered from the most important historical sites in south Yemen. It was the capital for Yafa’s sultans until the 1960s and also the ruling center of Yafa.

The citadel is characterized by its strategic fortified location. It is surrounded by a huge fence built of limestone from all sides except the northern side, which is the only entrance to the citadel.

The importance of al-Kahr Citadel is augmented by the beautiful nature that surrounds it and its proximity to other historic palaces. There are about 25 palaces nearby as well as historic mosques, domes, graves, dams, and ponds for water conservation.

The citadel was exposed to aerial bombing during the British occupation of the South, which caused severe damage to the palaces and homes of Yafa’s sultans and the ancient monuments.

The citadel remained full of people even after the departure of the sultans. Then, because of the drought that plagued the area and the civilizational evolution in Yafa, people begun leaving the mountain and settle in the cities.

The migration of people left the citadel exposed to looting and vandalism. The cannons given by British rulers for the sultans were looted, and even graves weren’t safe from greedy people looking for treasure.

Despite all this deterioration, concerned authorities stand silently. Many sheikhs and people in Yafa don’t have any awareness of the value and the importance of this archaeological site.

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